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Microsoft/Machinima Whistleblower Interviewed By Adam Sessler
If you haven’t avoided the internet all together over the last couple of days, than you’re overly familiar with the recent discovery that Microsoft and EA have offered Youtube channels, such as Machinima, compensation for positive coverage of their products. Microsoft would pay a $3 CPM bonus, (an extra $3 per thousand views) as long as “1) those content producers used at least 30 seconds of a video’s first two minutes in order to show Xbox One gameplay footage and 2) mention that they were playing on Xbox One.”
EA offered a slightly higher deal, with $10 CPM.
Whistleblower ReconXBL was interviewed by industry vet Adam Sessler in a recent Address the Sess over at the Rev3Games Youtube channel. ReconXBL opted to only provide his voice during the interview, as showing his face was a risk he wasn’t willing to take. ReconXBL stressed that what he discovered shouldn’t be anything profound, or new. These types of media deals, where certain publishers and developers pay for positive coverage, has been prevalent for a long time now. We just did not know about it.
ReconXBL, to put it lightly, as been freaked out by all the media attention and coverage his discovery received, and still is receiving. While no threats were made to the individual as of writing, thankfully, his Twitter account has been banned three times without ever being used. Indicating that someone from some big company wants to make his life a bit more difficult.
PR “Guru” Erik Reynolds was also involved with the interview, and provided unique details as to how PR actually functions in this industry. He was very specific in drawing a line between the PR people who work “clean” and follow the guidelines, those who don’t, and the higher ups demanding that PR employees criticize, complain, and “yell” at journalists for their unfavorable reviews of certain products.
This type of industry practice, that can be found in other mediums as a matter of fact, drives Reynolds mad. It paints a dark picture over what PR stands for, and gives a bad name to the people who want to do their jobs the right way.
Well known games critic, and Youtube personnel TotalBiscuit was also part of the discussion. The topic of disclosure was brought up and every single person on the panel, including TotalBiscuit, agree with the fact that when something like this does occur, said channel needs to let its viewers know a commercial deal was done. The channel can’t hide the fact that their review or coverage was bought, and needs to be made apparent.
Most of the panel was also in agreement with the fact that some channels shouldn’t be crucified when they get involved with these types of deals. Your regular Let’s Play Youtube channel, that in no shape or form advertises itself as a professional journalistic source, is a prime example.
To conclude, there really isn’t a foreseeable solution to a problem that has existed for quite some time. Most of the criticism isn’t aimed at the fact that Microsoft and EA paid for coverage, but that it was made sure to be hidden away from people.
Adam Sessler advised ReconXBL to take a deep breath, go for a run, avoid the internet, and to find comfort with his family.
The full interview can be found at the Rev3Games channel.